Favourite Things: ‘The true measure of a city is the people in it’

Faye out on one of many walks in the local  countryside with son Zach and daughter Gabi, shortly before Gabi's death in 2013
Faye out on one of many walks in the local countryside with son Zach and daughter Gabi, shortly before Gabi's death in 2013

PR director Faye Smith is sharing some of her favourite things with readers this week.

Faye founded Keep your Fork Marketing and PR 10 years ago to train and support growing businesses, young entrepreneurs, charities and students around the region.

Faye Smith loves the green lungs of Sheffield. Picture: Andrew Roe

Faye Smith loves the green lungs of Sheffield. Picture: Andrew Roe

She has lived in the city her entire life, almost all of it within one mile of Ecclesall. Graduating from Sheffield University, she made a career in retail management and training, before moving into marketing.

In the past decade, Keep Your Fork has won over a dozen awards including Yorkshire’s Best Home-based Business and Hallam Student Employer of the Year.

Faye recently moved to Ranmoor with her son Zach.

Entrepreneurial roots

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and love hearing family tales of how my great-grandfather built Ecclesall Road and my grandmother Ingram’s family were tea importers and blenders. My mother’s family ran Gratton’s grocery stores and in their Totley shop, my grandmother used to serve a young Rony Robinson! People often say I know everyone - of course I don’t, but we truly are the ‘biggest village’ with the very friendliest people.

Green lungs

Sheffield is blessed by so many wonderful green spaces: Graves Park for the rare breeds, Millhouses for the paddling pools, Whirlowbrook for the ducks. Now I live next to the Porter Valley, I walk the green lung from Endcliffe Park to Forge Dam most days, and often hike all the way to Fox House.

Ecclesall Woods was my stomping ground as a child, damming streams and making dens with my friends, playing out until we were hungry. A walk in the scented bluebells at this time of year is paradise.

Food markets and the independent scene

I am a massive fan of independents and I love food. At Sharrowvale and Nether Edge markets you can meet entrepreneurial, talented makers, choose meat and veg direct from the growers, and potter round the independent shops.

I am in my element at Bakewell monthly food market, which has 70 stalls and is the second largest in the UK. I do my weekly food shop at Knab Farm Shop on Montrose Road. Everything I need is there: it’s local, independent and organic with the wonderful owner, my sister-in-law Elaine.

Local media

Use it or lose it, friends! As a young married woman, The Sheffield Telegraph was part of my weekend ritual. The property guide to find our first house; interesting features to discuss over dinner with friends; the week’s news- and the listings guide to plan our cultural outings.

When my daughter Gabi died aged 12, I stopped watching television, but Radio Sheffield connected me with the outside world in a way I could handle. I find other people’s stories incredibly interesting, so I love shows like Rony’s Friends and the life journey interviews.

Birkdale

I will forever be grateful for the bursary which enabled my son Zach to attend this exceptional school. Quite aside from the Christian values and academic excellence, the encouragement and support he received daily from the ‘family’ of pupils and staff at the school allowed him to flourish. His school friends are a ‘band of brothers’ who will be with him for life.

Caring people

Churches are people, not buildings. My mother first took me to All Saints Ecclesall when I was three. At eight we joined St Thomas’s Church and I’ve stayed with it in its various locations for 40 years. When my leaders started The Well on Ecclesall Road, I followed.

All of these churches cared for and supported me in a truly biblical way when Gabi died. I received endless meals, round-the-clock company and a fund which paid for the funeral and allowed me to take time off. My business community, friends, family and team were also there for me in ways I will never forget. I am constantly in awe of the selfless love being put into action by churches and voluntary groups all over the city.